F2K is a countdown of the 50 worst songs of the decade. Track our progress here.
Everyone in our generation will never forget where they were when they heard about the greatest tragedy to ever occur on American soil: The Beastie Boys forgot how to rap.
In 2003, the last we heard of the Beastie Boys was the pleasant enough but ultimately milquetoast greatest-hits addendum single “Alive.” The crew had long since fallen down a rabbit hole of class-of-’84 revisionism, and for a while it was cute watching the Sultans Of Cool try to make up for the lost teenage years they wasted being punk rockers. They slowed down their flows enough to be cereal commercials–“Always punctuate the last LINE/Do it enough and it will always sound FINE.” Dorky, yes, but their gifted sense of humor made it fun enough for Generation Nostalgia.
Enter “In A World Gone Mad,” a protest against the Iraq War that felt more like a protest against the shackles of creativity. The band released the track for free in a blitzkrieg on numerous websites–MoveOn.org, MTV.com, I don’t fucking know, Pets.com or something. Hilarious Wired-style tech “experts”–all of whom hopefully lost their jobs many times over by now–lauded this revolutionary move to give away free music as a victory for the future of the industry. They predicted a utopia where bands would have an open dialogue with their fans and release everything for free–yay! In reality, it predicted the 2009 we have, but only the part where bands dump every studio-floor turd and half-assed remix humanly possible on the internet in hopes of getting blog traffic, leaving things like “quality control” and, well, “quality” as antediluvian relics of the ’90s.
Honestly, we could have used a good protest anthem around that time and never really got it. Saul Williams’s “Not In Our Name” was a little too granola; Zach De La Rocha’s “March Of Death” was too arch; John Mellencamp’s “To Washington” was by John Mellencamp; and “In A World Gone Mad” was just crap. Pretty much every line is a front-runner for their worst ever–and we’re talking about a band that’s famous for rhyming about Abe Vigoda.
Murder going on all day and night
Due time we fight the non-violent fight
See this is exactly why we don’t have Buddhists write our protest songs. Imagine if Woody Guthrie’s guitar said “This Machine Gives Fascists A Very Stern Yet Empathetic Talking To.”
Mirrors, smokescreens and lies
It’s not the politicians but their actions I despise
This is supposedly their way of being even-handed, but it’s really just passive-aggressive tactic number one. “Look, honey, I didn’t say you were a controlling, manipulative pain in my ass, I said you were acting like a controlling, manipulative pain in my ass.”
Citizen rule number 2080
Politicians are shady
So people watch your back ’cause I think they smoke crack
I don’t doubt it look at how they act
Why don’t you just sing the whole Tribe Called Quest album there, Adam? There’s a sign at the door, No Biting Allowed. I’m giving you the Honorary Jay-Z Yellow Card for crossing the two-bar minimum.
Now don’t get us wrong ’cause we love America
But that’s no reason to get hysterica
Simply put, that’s just 70 shades of ridiculous.
They’re layin’ on the syrup thick
We ain’t waffles, we ain’t havin’ it
Jesus Christ, you guys used to be like best friends with Public Enemy! Didn’t you learn anything?
George Bush you’re looking like Zoolander
Trying to play tough for the camera
Lest you forget this is from 2003.
Drive my Mini-Cooper
And I’m feeling super-duper
Yo, they tell I’m a trooper
And you know I’m satisfied
OK, that one’s actually from Madonna’s rap in “American Life.” Sorry guys, didn’t mean to pin that one on you, but you can see how I would make the mistake.